As I reminisced about a young romance, I realised something about myself. Something I have always known. I hate what ifs. As I’ve long since moved on I’ll share the story. Our location was primary school where the sun was shining, the birds chirping and I beaming as it was my birthday. I came to school that day bearing treats as was tradition (which is weird when you think about it because on your birthday you are the one who is supposed to be treated). The object of my affection, let’s call her Susan, had just celebrated her birthday the day before with little or no fanfare. Ever the empath I declared aloud that Susan and I would be celebrating our birthdays by handing out my bounty of treats, so I handed her half to pass out. I know, what a charmer and it worked because after that she was talking to me, she sat next to me and she even asked me to walk her to the bus stop. I remember that walk as being one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, think Albert in Hitch as he’s walking Allegra to her door. (If you don’t know what I mean watch Hitch, it’s just the right amount of corny). We arrived at the bus stop as I stumbled my way through small talk and she said something along the lines of ‘Would you get on my bus with me ?”. Woah! Chill out Susan, that’s a lot. I mean I was already pushing it by walking her to her bus stop.
As a young black boy, I was at crossroads, I knew my mother was waiting for me and I dear not make her wonder where I was (because that’s a whooping) but on the other hand, this was Susan asking. Timidly I said I had to go home and the look of disappointment on her face stayed with me for some time. In hindsight, she probably wasn’t too distraught as she started going out with Tim G the next day….
For a long time that was a great what if of mine, what if I had gotten on the bus? Maybe I would have been scolded by my mum but maybe also I would have wooed Susan? So, from then on, I vowed to always do the absolute most whenever given the opportunity.
“You suck”, is what she said jokingly, but probably meant to some degree as I sat down. I had volunteered, to represent my table team, to take part in a drawing challenge where you had to draw a randomly generated object while an AI guessed what it was. The AI had to decipher your drawing within a time limit to win this game of computer charades. It was quite fun.
I was the first to volunteer, as I usually am because of the earlier promise I made and as I take every attempt to best my fear of failure. The most successful people view failure as a positive, part of the process of success and it’s usually when you get comfortable with a thing that you can learn mastery. So, I volunteered my person when no one else wanted to and tried my hand at the game. I was okay. My volunteering encouraged another from a different team who was better than me. That’s another reason I put myself out there, to encourage others. As the famous line in Coach Carter goes “we should let our lights shine, in an effort to encourage others to do so”. However, with that usually comes detractors. Standing out is harder than falling into the background and I think what my teammate did when she said “You suck” was more aimed at her than me. She probably wanted to try her hand at the game but was too afraid of failure and looking silly. So, when I went up and failed confirming, what she imagined might happen she found happiness in the failure as it reaffirmed and justified her inaction. But that’s no way to live because life is too short.
I won’t pretend I was a big fan of either Nipsey Hussle or Cadet in their lifetimes. I like others was put on to their music after their untimely deaths. The passing of Cadet really got to me because from what I gathered it seemed like he was about to really blow. Talent is distributed equally but opportunities aren’t. So, to see him cut down just as he started to get the recognition his talents deserved seems cruel. The case of Nipsey is different because by all accounts he actively rejected recognition. If everyone else thought of their life as a sprint, he was one who determined his was a marathon and thus lived accordingly. He was a man interested in legacy and ultimately, I believe cemented his, though it seems a little ridiculous as he was only 33 – so young. These passing’s remind me that nothing is promised. Nothing (except death and taxes) is guaranteed.
Before this my last post was in March, so a full 3 months have passed and as much as life has been turbulent with the passing of my own father on 4/3/19, I have no excuse as to why I haven’t written. I haven’t been suffering from writer’s block and have been talking, living, even telling (occasionally) funny stories on Instagram. I honestly just haven’t been focusing on this enough because it’s harder. It’s challenging to get the words that seem so clear in my head on to paper. It’s easier to sit back and make sometimes valid excuses to get to it later or to spend time procrastinating or busy myself with hedonistic pleasures. But I can’t continue like this as I am reminded that nothing is promised, and time isn’t guaranteed.
After my dad passed, I went through a stage where either nothing mattered and everything was pointless or I felt like I had to fulfil all my wildest ambitions because time was running out. I cycled through those extremes before settling in the middle with perhaps a slant towards ambitions because of my dad. He was loved and touched a lot of people’s lives positively, but I know he was unfulfilled, and I believe that affected him. I don’t want that; I know in myself that I need to at least try even if I’m ultimately destined to fail because I’d be much happier with that. It wouldn’t be a what if like Susan. In the kindest possible way, I want to be more Nipsey than Cadet, remembered for my legacy more than my amazing if unfulfilled potential. So, I need to follow in their steps by actually doing and not allowing my fear of failure to hold me back – because of course, I could fail, but what if I fly?
Peace and Love,
Aharoun the Author
2 thoughts on “What ifs”
Beautifully written. As always I enjoy the stories of your experiences.. Jodi Picoult once said “you can always edit a bad page, you can’t edit a blank page.”
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You are amazing